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Attorney Samuel Dewey Asks, How Is Congress Responding to Russia?

When Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine on February 24, President Joe Biden promised swift action to hold Russia accountable.  As attorney Samuel Dewey points out, the Congress also has a role to play in responding to Russia’s aggression.

But, what is Congress' role in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine, and how are they already responding?

Balance of Power

One of the tenets of the U.S. Constitution is the balance of power.  The Constitution established three branches of the federal government—executive, legislative and judicial—to serve as a method of checks and balances, ensuring no one branch possesses unconstrained power.

This applies to the United States’ response to Russia.  The President and Congress share powers related to foreign affairs.  While the President serves as the Commander in Chief of the military, only Congress possesses the power to declare war.

While the U.S. hasn’t declared war on Russia nor sent troops to support Ukraine directly, the President would need Congress’ approval to do so if it ever came to that.

Deferring that Power

President Biden has signed multiple executive actions that have imposed sanctions on Russia’s government officials, some companies, and even oligarchs who are considered close to Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as their family members.

Congress technically has the ability to check President Biden on these sanctions, but it's chosen not to do so thus far.  In fact Congress has acted to facilitate President Biden’s actions, and has proposed even more aggressive sanctions on a bi-partisan basis.

Rubio, the top Republican serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in mid-February that Biden “doesn’t need a bill to do the sanctions.”  At the same time, he said, “Congress not passing a bill isn't going to change our ability to respond to this.”

Taking Action

In many ways, Congress is taking swift action to enact more measures targeted at Russia.  In early March, for example, Congress approved a bill that, in part, will provide Ukraine with $13.6 billion in aid.

What Congress is planning next is more direct action that would end the normal trade relations the U.S. has with Russia. President Biden has already said he would back revoking Russia’s trade status as a "most favored nation," and Congress is working to enact such a bill.

As Sam Dewey explains, Congress has also promised severe and swift punishments on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.  That has thus far included the actions above, as well as bills that have passed through the House to ban all imports of oil from Russia and limiting the access the country has to the World Trade Organization.

About Samuel Dewey

Samuel Dewey is a successful lawyer and former Senior Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee and Chief Investigator and Counsel to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging.  Mr. Dewey specializes in:  (1) white-collar investigations, compliance, and litigation; (2) regulatory compliance and litigation; and (3) complex public policy matters. Within these fields, Mr. Dewey is considered an expert in Congressional investigations and attendant matters. Mr. Dewey has a B.A. in Political Science, a J.D. from Harvard, and is admitted to practice law in Washington, DC, and Maryland.